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Team approach pays off

Family, healthcare team help girl manage diabetes
Kaycee Verlinde staying active through skating
Physical activity such as ice skating helps Kaycee Verlinde manage her type 1 diabetes.
  Kaycee Verlinde stays busy.

The seventh-grader ice skates with the Capital Ice Chill synchronized skating team, plays violin in the school orchestra, participates in numerous school activities— and checks her blood sugar several times each day. Diagnosed at age 8 with type 1 diabetes, Kaycee understands the importance of diligent self-care for her to enjoy life and continue her active lifestyle.

Managing Kaycee’s disease is a team effort that also involves her family, her teachers at Wachter Middle School, Sanford Health pediatrician Dr. Parag Kumar and staff at the Sanford Diabetes Center.

“We have to keep on top of it every day, and we work very closely with Sanford Health’s staff,” said Mary Verlinde, Kaycee’s mother. “I don’t know where we’d be without Dr. Kumar and Sanford Health’s diabetes staff. They’ve been wonderful.”

Because Mary’s father died at age 47 from complications of diabetes, Mary was aware of the symptoms. She closely observed Kaycee and her sister, Meghan. In third grade, Kaycee was excessively thirsty and frequently urinated. Dr. Kumar confirmed Mary’s suspicions: Kaycee had type 1

diabetes. Type 1 juvenile diabetes is extremely hard to manage, and successful management requires a dedicated family commitment, Dr. Kumar said.

“The disease is devastating to these children,” he said. “They are sick, and they are angry they have this disease. These parents have to take over until the child is mature enough to be responsible for self-care. If the diabetes is poorly managed, these children have recurrent hospitalizations and can develop life-threatening complications. Family understanding and support can make or break the child’s health.”

Mary said Dr. Kumar and Sanford Diabetes Center staff educated the entire family when Kaycee first became ill. Regular appointments and ongoing communication have been the key to helping Kaycee stay well, Mary said. If they need immediate assistance, diabetes staff is available 24 hours a day.

  Dr. Parag Kumar Dr. Parag Kumar
Kaycee, who turns 13 in May, said the shots have been the hardest part of her adjustment. She still must prick her finger to monitor her blood sugars, but she’s glad she no longer needs insulin injections.

She uses an insulin pump, which provides better blood sugar control and easily fits in Kaycee’s pocket. The pump, which has a tube inserted under Kaycee’s skin, releases a programmed amount of insulin continuously throughout the day. If she still experiences high blood sugars, she presses a button for an extra insulin boost.

Physical activity is essential for good diabetes management, Dr. Kumar said. It has many benefits, including lowering blood glucose and improving the body’s ability to use the insulin. So Kaycee’s strenuous two-hour skating practices are good for her, yet Kaycee often experiences blood sugar swings during exercise.

“I can tell now when I get shaky or dizzy, and I need insulin,” she said. “I’m doing pretty good managing now. Dr. Kumar and the diabetes staff have helped find new ways to do things I need to do and to manage my diabetes better.”

Learning to manage diabetes can seem overwhelming at first, Mary said. The team at the Diabetes Care Center works closely with those with diabetes and families as well as with people identified at increased risk of diabetes.

Click here for more information about Sanford Diabetes Center or call 701.323.5324.

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